Castleton’s mile-long tree-shaded Main Street, lined with historic houses, makes it one of the loveliest villages in Vermont, a state filled with historic towns and villages. Most of the houses were built between 1800 and 1840 – built by the settlers who had come to Castleton starting in the 1760’s, living at first in log cabins or primitive frame houses, existing on corn, potatoes and wild game. They prospered, expanding their farms and bringing more and more craftsmen and tradesmen to the town, building a meeting house and school. The town was chartered in 1761. By the early 1800’s, with sons grown and settled and finding time for comfortable homes and some gracious living, families built larger, more permanent houses. Castleton was early developing as an educational center, with one of the nation’s first medical schools and a Seminary that evolved into a Normal School, and presently is Castleton State College, part of the state’s educational system.
Castleton became a town comprised of three distinct areas. One is the Village, where the post office, town offices, a bank, a general store, a 1940’s style diner and a few other commercial enterprises make it a busy and social gathering place, with the College on a side street nearby. Lake Bomoseen is the second area, a five-mile long popular summer resort and fishing spot, with its post office in Castleton Corners. The third post office is in Hydeville, almost an extension of Main Street at the end of Lake Bomoseen. Hydeville flourished in the mid-1800s as a slate quarrying and milling center. Colonial homes, grand summer hotels and Victorian cottages abounded. The cottages and homes are still there, although many of the hotels have been replaced by motels and bed and breakfast establishments.
Castleton Village, with its exquisite array of Federal and Greek Revival style homes and public buildings, many by master builder Thomas Royal Dake, has been listed almost in its entirety on the National Register of Historic Places. Several of its buildings were recorded in drawings for the Historic American Buildings Survey of 1937, now kept in the Library of Congress. Between 1900 and 1940 devastating fires occurred in Castleton Village, Castleton Corners and Hydeville, as well as at the great lakeside resorts. Despite this destruction of hotels and the original commercial and industrial areas of its villages, the town of Castleton retains an outstanding architectural heritage spanning two hundred years of Vermont history.